As we confront news stories that shock and dishearten us, I am often at a loss for any appropriate words. I am choosing to use this space and my voice to list just a few amazing black authors that I hope you will consider reading. Spread peace, spread literature, spread understanding.
1. Helen Oyeyemi
This British novelist, born in Nigeria, is a sophisticated writer with an ability to turn tales at once whimsical, literary, and thought-provoking. Granta recognized her as one the best new British novelists in 2013 and with her latest book, What is Not Yours is Not Yours, Oyeyemi proves that she is a serious force in literature.
2. T. Geronimo Johnson
For something a bit more American, try Johnson. His critical and satirical work in Welcome to Braggsville will grab your attention and hold onto it AND he will give you a laugh or two in the process.
3. A. Igoni Barrett
This Nigerian author has been picking up lots of interest for his latest book Blackass, a book that will entice fans of Kafka and magical realism with its solidly political narrative of a black man who wakes up with white skin. Set in Nigeria and written with the steady hand of a writer with confidence in the face of a difficult subject, this book is an interesting meditation on race.
4. Paul Beatty
A funny story about a modern-day slave holder? That is also smart, informed, and satirical? Beatty dared to create it when he penned, The Sellout. He's a writer with a fearless desire to explore, examine, and expose.
5. Jacqueline Woodson
While you are probably aware of her work as a children's author, Woodson has a novel for adults coming out this August, and I can tell you that it is not to be missed. The new work focuses on young girls and their friendships, looking at how adolescence and eventual adulthood can often tear apart early bonds and leave us missing vital connections. This novel is so lyrical that is often feels like a poem.
These authors are a small sample of the black writers that are creating amazing work today. For a more extensive exploration, please come in and we will be happy to show you many more. There are, of course, many classic choices to consider rereading or catching up on, as well as a wealth of poets and nonfiction writers that I have neglected entirely. I think sharing stories is one of the most vital ways of connecting people. Make those connections.